As part of my creative media course, I have to write about a magazine article I found interesting. I chose the “You 2.0” article in the June ’09 issue of WIRED UK.
The article concerns emerging technologies that can enhance the human body’s capabilities and the ethical and philosophical questions they raise.
For instance, there is a type of gene therapy that allows people to alter their genetic makeup temporarily. This has, supposedly, been adopted by a number of professional athletes. I say supposedly because these therapies are much harder to detect than performance enhancing drugs. The most likely therapy in use is an injection which increases the body’s production of EPO, the hormone which controls the production of red blood cells. An increase of red blood cells means more oxygen flowing to the muscles and increased performance. The therapy is highly dangerous, however. In one study of the therapy on a group of eight baboons, the effects of the therapy were so detrimental, all eight had to be put down.
The most interesting part of the article is the question of whether these performance enhancing methods kill the notion of fair play in sport or, if this is the future of sport. These therapies can improve performance, but, so can a change in diet or an extra hour in training. On the other hand, atheletes don’t take these therapies to level the playing field, they do it to get an advantage. If everyone is undergoing these therapies, new, possibly even more dangerous therapies will be developed and a dangerous cycle could keep going.
In the end, I think that these various methods of performance enhancement will keep showing up in sports. Some atheletes will do anything to gain an advantage. It is inevitable.